Sepia Saturday 105: We’re No Angels!
St. Anne’s Church, Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, 1939.
My uncle, Jimmy Harris, is dead-centre in this photo which originally appeared in “The Cape Breton Post” and his first cousin and best pal, Neil F. McNeil, named after his grandfather, ( The Patriarch of an earlier post) is directly to his left. Don’t they just look as if “butter wouldn’t melt” in those mouths? You’ll notice that Jimmy isn’t making much of an effort to put those palms together in prayer. And Neil is the picture of innocence, isn’t he?
Well, these two were notorious for ice-clamper- (the Cape Breton word for icebergs) jumping in Glace Bay Harbour (this particular activity still has its own CB vernacular and is known as “skooshing”), hanging around the railroad tracks, playing hookey to spend the day in the woods and later on, shooting pool and smoking cigarettes. If you’ve ever seen the opening number from “The Music Man” then you can just apply that “Trouble” song to these two angelic faces in this photo.
At least one of the boys in this group photo ended up as a priest. It certainly wasn’t my uncle who, got kicked out of the University of Dalhousie, joined the Navy for four years, and finally returned to successfully complete his degree.
According to my aunt Kay, who is in her late 80s, Jimmy and Neil were also known as pretty good musicians. Jimmy used to play the piano (by ear) and Neil could blow a mean trumpet. Jimmy’s favourite music has always been, and still is, Jazz.
Now, the only way I can link this to the SS challenge, is to say that my uncle Jimmy was always known around our house as, “The Masher”. Not because he was a Ladies’ Man. No! It was because he was a dab-hand with a potato-masher and we always let him have a go at the spuds when he was at our house for a holiday dinner.
Jimmy and Neil were 12 at the time this picture was taken. On December 26, Jimmy will turn 85. He’s still got a devilish grin and a mischievous twinkle in the eyes and has some great stories to tell about his rebel-days.